Miami High News

Can You Hear Me?

Communication is more than words because your movements matter too.

Communication is more than words because your movements matter too.

By Rachel Salmeron, Business Manager

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Drizzles of raindrops, mesmerizing music, children laughing, and your own voice are familiar sounds. How would you feel if you couldn’t hear them? How would you feel if you couldn’t communicate properly with others? Many deaf people use American Sign Language (ASL), which involves using hands, arms, body, and facial expressions to convey ideas to others. What about learning ASL here at school?

How to add a course to the Miami High curriculum

Assistant principal for curriculum Ms. Leal reports there is a process to add a new language class in Miami High: 1) there must be a staff member in Miami High that is qualified to teach the language; 2) the teacher must sit with Ms. Leal to converse on the matter and add it to the subject selection sheet for students to choose; 3) the number of classes must be figured out depending on the available space.

Typically, the designated teacher will teach one class for the first year. Over time the number of students taking the class could accumulate and the language course would become established.

My interest in ASL

My interest in American Sign Language began when my sister lost her hearing from one of her ears. She began to take college courses in Miami Dade to become familiar with ASL and only spoke to me by signing. When I told her I was interested in learning, she told me to figure it out—in sign language. I took the initiative to research ASL and was fascinated because I had discovered a new form of communication.

Why learn another language?

Sign language may seem universal, but it’s not. There are as many types of sign languages asthere are spoken languages. It varies from American Sign Language, British Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, Maya Sign Language and more.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the top five languages spoken in the U.S. are in ascending order: English with 237.8 million speakers, Spanish with 40.5 million, Chinese with 3.4 million, Tagalog with 1.7 million, and Vietnamese with 1.5 million users.

When you attend a job interview, a question that is often asked is; “Do you know more than one language?” Surprisingly, America is very monolingual. Per the American Census Bureau, only 26 percent of Americans speak another language other than English in their households.

According to information posted on the website for Gallaudet University (, there are about 2,000,000 ASL users in the USA, which according to the Census Bureau would make American Sign Language the fourth most spoken language in America. Knowing American Sign Language, therefore, could be an advantage in the future when getting a job or simply communicating with someone who is deaf.

Want to learn sign language?

Some resources to learn sign language are apps that can be found in your mobile devices such as Memrise and Duolingo and are available for free in your App store or Android store. For those who aren’t fond of apps, some books for learning sign language are, Everything Sign Language Book by Irene Duke and Signing Made Easy by Rod R. Butterworth.

Unknown Things about Sign Language

Sign Language has its own grammar and syntax

It is not universal

Not all deaf people use sign language

Deaf History Month is from March 13th to from April 15th every year


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